Rain has arrived

Rain finally came to Yangshuo: 6C and rain today and should continue cold and wet for the next week. There are only a small number of visiting climbers in town along with the regular contingent of expats, transients and local hard men. The wood-burning stoves in Bar 98 must be irresistible about now because nowhere else has indoor heating. This is the weather I go out of my way to avoid, save up vacation days for the spring and late fall.

Ah Chen and Ah Ban have been pulling down really hard this winter and were getting out nearly everyday. A top Chinese climber from Beijing, Xiao Cai, was down for about a week and he struggled to keep up on the long difficult routes at Moon Hill, Lei Pi Shan and White Mountain. Also got Ah Chen and crew out to the Space Buttress for a go at First Contact (5.13a), they all sent it on their second try. Still no confirmation on three other climbs there all in the 12a/b range. No one has jumped at bolting the thin crack on the long overhung upper-headwall, either it looks too difficult or no one who can climb at that level is willing to do what it takes to put in the anchors; it will probably have to go on aid with a drill. Could be the next classic. Many more people talking about putting up more 13s and 14s which should attract more international climbers.

Climbed in the gym in Shanghai yesterday and got right on the long (20m) ceiling route at Hongkou Stadium. I struggled on this type of route at Yangshuo last trip so I want to get strong enough to pull through more overhanging routes on my next trip planned for April - once it warms up and stops raining. Climbing is the fountain of youth.


February in Yangshuo

Just back from probably the best climbing trip to Yangshuo I have ever had; there was a great group of climbers in town, the weather was unbelievably dry and warm, and I broke through some climbing barriers. I’ll have to keep my eye on the weather next year instead of writing off a Jan/Feb trip altogether. Looking at the precip charts, winter is a relatively dry period, but it is usually cold and gray.

One US couple, Gab and Maria, returned after a brief trip to other Asian climbing destinations and were seriously pushing their limits. They went from flashing their first 11a to projecting 13a in less than 3 months! I was inspired and starting projecting climbs instead of just going for the on-sight or flash and walking away till I got stronger when I failed. On this trip I repeated climbs, got some redpoint coaching, figured out my mistakes and was surprised how confidently I eventually sent them. Not my favorite style of climbing but I’m planning on doing more of it. I didn’t scare myself as much as when leading trad and it is less adventurous than putting up new lines. I also got on TR and climbed 11d-12b; I got through them but was humbled because I used to think I was strong.

After sport climbing for 10 days, Paul and the Honky crew showed up and we bolted a new line on Birdman, just left of the chimney pitch which I’m recommending calling ‘Tai Chi Mney’ because the stemming has people contorting in all shapes and facing all directions. Our new line leads through the lower black rock to some nice looking thin cracks on orange rock I want to climb on traditional gear next trip. Birdman is just before White Mountain and should have a few more difficult lines completed later this year. Check at Karst Café for the latest info. I’m planning my next trip for April/May before the monsoons hit.


Winter in Yangshuo

I've been in Yangshuo for a week and this is the first time I have had time and energy to update my blog, life is good!

The Year of the Ox got off to a great start in Yangshuo. I wasn’t planning a climbing trip till late March but the reports of perfect weather, temps in the 20s under sunny skies, was just too much to resist. Stephen came down from Shanghai a week earlier and airline tickets at 70%-off sealed the deal. Not too many climbers in town but finding partners has been easy, as usual, even if it means I’m pulling down at consistently harder grades than I normally would.

Climbed at White Mountain with Stephen my first day back, then Moon Hill and Lei Pi Shan before going back to a project at White Mountain. Yesterday I needed a break and went bolting; Eben had established a 3-pitch, 5.8 line at Birdman, up a wide chimney unlike anything else in Yanghsuo, that we cleaned up and bolted. Bright orange rock, not too strenuous and great views of the countryside. Classic potential at an easy grade with potential for lots of single and multi-pitch lines on excellent quality rock nearby.

These days down here make all the training days we put in at the gyms in Shanghai worth it – I hate the thought of going back to the plastic cave. Got back climbing close to the level I left at in December, then I got my ass handed to me on the 10b at Moon Hill!! Still looking at sending some 11b and 11c routes next week which will all be personal bests. If I succeed, I may start telling people I’m a sport climber.

Just finished breakfast at Café China, I’m in the sun wearing shorts and short sleeves – projected high is 28 C today! Totally unheard of: it’s usually cold and rainy here this time of year. My arms and fingers are aching so I think I’ll go for a long, recovery bike ride today. Stays light past 6pm so I can still put in a very long day outside, which it what is all about!